She’s the One (1996), directed by Edward Burns, starring Jennifer Aniston, Cameron Diaz, & Edward Burns. (Warning: this review contains information about the plot and ending of this movie.)
I had no expectations for this movie…and it met every single one of them.
The plot surrounds the theme of marital infidelity. The main character, Mickey (played by Burns), was cheated on by his ex-fiancee (played by Diaz). His brother Francis was cheating on his wife (played by Aniston) with that ex-fiancee. And the mother (who was never shown) was cheating on the father with the hardware store clerk.
The only relationship that worked out in the movie was Mickey with his new wife, a girl he met while driving his cab, whom he married 24 hours after meeting. Of course, they had a few rough patches owing to the reality that they didn’t really know each other, but in the end, it’s their marriage alone that lasted.
We, the audience, barely even get to know her, a reflection of Mickey’s own lack of knowledge about who she is. Her name is Hope (overt symbolism), she’s from Vermont (her defense that she didn’t marry Mickey simply for a green card), she doesn’t talk to her parents (never shown), she works at a restaurant where she has an odd co-worker relationship, and she’s just been accepted to do PhD work (in what field?) at the Sorbonne in Paris.
There really is no redemption in this movie. Francis divorces his wife, intending to marry the woman he’s cheating with–only she runs off with someone else. His wife won’t take him back, and she instead shacks up with an old fling. The father is left distraught as his wife of 30+ years has been lying to him.
Overall, the film paints an extremely pessimistic view of marriage. We’re led to believe that you never really know anyone, not even your spouse. Although Mickey’s marriage to Hope is painted in a favorable light, and he’s convinced that “she’s the one”, why should we believe that their marriage will make it for the long term? Just because the relationship starts out well and survives some initial bouts of misunderstanding, jealousy, and dreams, that doesn’t mean that it will continue well, as this movie so clearly demonstrates through the other marriages.
Oddly enough, there are some interesting parallels between this movie and the Parable of the Sower (or Soils), found in the New Testament (Matt 13:3-9,18-23). Some seed falls along the path and gets scooped up quickly by birds (Mickey with his ex-fiancee). Some seed falls on rocky places, doesn’t develop good roots, and shrivels up when it gets scorched by the sun (Mickey’s parents). Some seed falls among thorns, the cares of this world, and gets choked (Mickey’s brother). All that’s left is the seed that falls on good soil, which we’re led to believe is Mickey & Hope’s marriage.
The movie seems to say that time, depth, and intimacy are not necessary for cultivating the good soil of a healthy marriage. She just has to be the one, and it’ll all work out.
I disagree, and even the movie itself supports the notion that hope for a good ending is practically ridiculous in light of the temptations of infidelity.
Marriage certainly can work. It is work. “She’s the one” is just not enough of a foundation (let alone an ongoing investment) to stave off the struggles and the temptations in order to lead to a lifelong bond of companionship and care.